Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Friday, June 10, 2011


One of the greatest things about camping is sitting around the campfire. Campfires bring neighbors and family together, provide warmth in cool evenings, and a platform for roasting marshmallows. We love watching the flames dance on the logs as they display a rainbow spectrum of colors.

But there are serious consequences of campfires. If you have been watching the national news lately then you are aware that the suspected cause of the devastating wildfires in Arizona is an unattended campfire. When I worked for the Department of Interior as a wildlife biologist, one of my collateral duties was wildland firefighting. Many wildlfires are the result of careless behavior. When dry conditions exist, many counties will impose burn bans. We were often called to put out wildfires that resulted from someone burning a brush pile in conditions that were extremely dry. Embers can travel in the air and ignite a spot fire up to a mile away.

Most campgrounds allow fires at campsites. But, campers should remember that they are responsible for their fire and civil and criminal penalties may be imposed if these fires get out of control. You may be held financially responsible for damage to property and for firefighting expenses. Or worse, you may be held criminally responsible if there is loss of life.

Here are a few reminders about campfire safety:
      • Never leave a fire unattended and always put it out before leaving it,
      • Always use a fire pit or some structure to contain the fire and coals,
      • Never start a fire when there is a high fire danger in the area, and
      • Do not attempt to burn logs that don’t fit in the fire pit/ring.

Another campfire downer is likelihood of spreading exotic pests by transporting firewood. We are currently in Maine and the northeast is fighting two exotic insects, the Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian Longhorned Beetle. The range of these insects has rapidly increased due to being transported long distances via firewood. These insects are now found in 13 states (from Wisconsin to New york) and two Canadian Provinces. The ecological consequences are great as these non-native species have no natural enemies to regulate their population and can have devastating impacts on native trees. The borer has the potential to kill all ash trees in North America and has already killed millions of trees in the Midwest and Canada. The Asian Longhorned beetle is responsible for killing a wide spectrum of trees including maples, birches, poplars, willows, and many other trees.

Maine forest rangers asking a visitor if he is transporting fire wood.
Most people could not recognize this pest nor see it under the bark or deep within the wood which is why the state of Maine has banned all out-of-state firewood. When we entered Maine, forest rangers approached us at the rest area and asked if were transporting firewood. They currently have a program to exchange firewood if you are bringing in wood from out-of-state. However, this program has become very expensive and will soon be discontinued. If you are caught bringing in out-of-state firewood, you will be fined. The recommendation is to burn firewood where you buy it which will help reduce the spread of insects. So as the flyer in Maine says, “Pack Marshmallows, Not Firewood.”

A properly attended fire.


  1. Good boy. Now go get me a beer. (don't laugh, my friend had one of otter's ancestors. would open the fridge and fetch a beer for him.)


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